THUWAL (Saudi Arabia) — Desalinated seawater is the lifeblood of Saudi Arabia, no more so than at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, an international research centre that rose from the dry, empty desert a decade ago.
Produced from water from the adjacent Red Sea that is forced through salt-separating membranes, it is piped into the campus’ gleaming lab buildings and the shops, restaurants and cookie-cutter homes of the surrounding planned neighbourhoods.
It irrigates the palm trees that line the immaculate streets and the grass field at the 5,000-seat sports stadium. Even the community swimming pools are filled with hundreds of thousands of gallons of it.
Desalination provides all of the university’s fresh water, nearly 5 million gallons a day. But that amount is just a tiny fraction of Saudi Arabia’s total production. Beyond the walls and security checkpoints of the university, desalinated water makes up about half of the fresh water supply in this nation of 33 million people, one of the most water-starved on Earth.
Worldwide, desalination is increasingly seen as one possible answer to problems of water quantity and quality that will worsen with global population growth and the extreme heat and prolonged drought linked to climate change.Read more...